American University to Host Conference on Improving Inter-American Human Rights Commission and Court

When

October 11, 2012

Details

More than 30 prominent international law centers will convene on Monday, October 15 at American University’s Washington College of Law to debate the future of the Inter-American Human Rights System. The day-long conference is intended to address the needs and challenges of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) in light of increased criticism that the institutions, both autonomous branches of the Organization of American States (OAS), are in dire need of reform.

In early September, the Venezuelan government officially informed OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza that it was renouncing the American Convention on Human Rights and would begin the process of pulling out of the regional human rights pact. Within a year, Venezuela will no longer be part of the regional human rights bodies. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who was re-elected for a fourth term on Sunday, has recently accused the international bodies of campaigning against his government and “supporting terrorism.” Amnesty International criticized the Venezuelan government’s decision to withdraw from the Inter-American Human Rights System, a decision that critics have said would violate the country’s constitution and weaken human rights protections in the region.

Meanwhile, several other OAS member countries have also advocated for reforms to the Inter-American Human Rights System. At the 42nd General Assembly of the OAS in Cochabamba in June, Venezuela was joined by Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua in calling for reforms, while Argentina, Brazil and Mexico agreed that the human rights commission and court should be modernized. Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said, “If it’s necessary to abandon the OAS and create our own system, we have to do it.” The U.S., meanwhile, has failed to ratify the original 1969 American Convention on Human Rights Pact of San José, which led to the founding of the IACHR.

On September 24, the Permanent Council of the OAS convened an extraordinary session with IACHR Executive Secretary Emilio Álvarez Icaza to develop a plan to strengthen the Inter-American Human Rights System. A formal hearing on the issue is expected on October 30.

Speakers at the October 15 conference in Washington DC include: President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights José de Jesús Orozco Henríquez; Deputy Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Elizabeth Abi-Mershed; and Secretary of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights Pablo Saavedra. In addition, Viviana Krsticevic, author of “The Promise of Protecting All” in the Summer 2009 AQ on human rights, will be among the speakers.

The conference is free and registration can be completed here.

 




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